Friday, October 19, 2012

Anderson Cooper: In Order to Be a Success, You Need to Outwork Everyone Else.


After Anderson Cooper graduated from Yale University, he had difficulty finding a job in broadcast journalism. So he gathered some video equipment and shuttled off to war zones – Burma, Bosnia and Somalia, among other places, and packaged his own news.

Eventually, he began selling his stories. Then ABC News hired him.

Now, Cooper, who visited Temple University yesterday to receive the Lew Klein Excellence in the Media Award, reports for 60 Minutes, he hosts a daily talk show on CBS and he anchors a show on CNN. He works around 14 to 16 hours per day.

“I don’t do much else,” he said, though he added that the long days don’t bother him. “It doesn’t feel like work to me.”

His style of journalism has generated a mass following, largely because he reports on ideas and events in a factual manner and then adds his own critical eye. He’s received criticism for his brand of journalism, like the time he saved the life of a child who had been pelted by bricks after a devastating earthquake in Haiti.

“This kid is 10-years old and he has a severe head wound,” Cooper recalled, explaining how he scooped up the child and carried him to safety. “Some people attacked me for being too involved. But this was not altering the event. It was helping a kid.”

It’s important not to alter a situation, he said, or to even create a stir because the cameras are rolling. When people start acting for the camera, he shuts it down, as what he strives for is authenticity. Which is why he lets the news impact him on a personal level.

“I don’t think you should go home and brush it (the job) off,” he said. “Seeing everything and thinking about it makes your reporting all the more real.”

Even after 20 years in journalism, after witnessing devastation after devastation, he tries not to be hardened by what he sees and experiences.

“You can get lost in the horror and hate,” he admitted. “But then you miss the kindness and compassion.”


Here are a few other things he said that stood out to me:

• “It’s an extraordinary feeling to run to something that everyone else is running away from,” he said.

• “Accuracy in reporting is more important than ever before,” Cooper said.

• His mother told him to follow his bliss. So he did. He took a chance by travelling overseas to war zones to report.

• He got his first job by being there, and by being aggressive.

• In order to be a success, you need to outwork everyone else, Cooper said.

“That’s why I don’t take vacation now,” he said. “Because I know there are a lot of people waiting to take my job.”

 • He came out as being gay when he was in high school, and he said that he has long been open about his sexuality. He just always thought it was a personal issue, one that didn’t need to be discussed on the global stage of his television shows.

“When you’re reporting,” he said, “you don’t want to be the story.”

Plus, in many of the places he reported, being gay was not socially acceptable.

Having his personal life splashed around the world could have endangered his life.





19 comments:

Yung-Hsin Tsou said...

I wasn't there to listen to him and I am not a journalism major, but the first thing occurred to me after reading professor Miller's article was that: "you must be a workaholic to be Anderson Cooper." It's impressive that his passion for his job is so great. "It’s an extraordinary feeling to run to something that everyone else is running away from." What an adventurous spirit of a journalist! Now I kind of understand what's the fascination and the tough life of being a journalist.

Thomas Mickens Jr said...

I was also unable to see Anderson speak; however, after reading Prof. Miller's article, I'm convinced that he captured the true essence of journalism that day: care about the people you're covering and be grossly tenacious in everything you do. Some people don’t see Anderson as someone who practices Journalism in its purest form, but is it really “unethical” for being too involved and too outspoken as a journalist? Doesn't wearing your heart on your sleeve give the story some merit? Although I can understand why people find some of Anderson’s actions as inappropriate, I can’t help but to respect his passion for the profession -- there aren't enough Anderson Cooper's in this world.

JustinWagner said...

The hour, if that, Anderson Cooper was on stage went smoothly as a wide array of students got to ask Cooper diverse questions relating to morals, ethics in journalism, and even of course, the presidential debate. Most of the attendees were staring at this glowing man as he continued to pour his knowledge and facts out for the audience to absorb. Many of our fellow journalism students got to physically see and be in the presence of one of the most respected journalists in the world. His advice reached every single one of those students present, myself included, and his main point was to keep yourself out of the story when you reach a certain celebrity status like his.

“It’s difficult when you’re the reporter, because you don’t want to be the story,” Cooper explained as he discussed how his recent stardom has changed the way he goes about doing his job.

Cooper went on to say, “Never compare one person’s suffering to another, because for them it’s their suffering. And you want to honor that and do right by them by them by telling what they’re going through. To me, calling it a story is inappropriate, it isn’t a story, its real life.” This is a man who knows how the real world works. A man who'se willing to be self-less in order to find justice through facts.

The room grew silent at points as the deep feeling of remorse sank into the hearts of everyone listening.

Cooper went on to say, “I don’t think you should go home and sleep well at night. You shouldn’t brush it off and move along. It’s okay to be depressed and sad about these things. It’s what makes your reporting frankly more honest and real if you’re responding in a way that everybody else would.”

As the Q&A came to a close, Cooper decided to finish off with some empathic words of advice that certainly helped any writer who plans on documenting the real world through journalism. He said, “You will need to focus on the little details that other people might miss that will be able to transmit that horror in a very real and personal intimate way, and that is very important.”

Mark Valeriano said...

I didn't get to go to this Interview with Mr. Cooper but from what you posted it sounded like he gave a very important and useful message. The advice he gave about "In order to be a success, you need to outwork everyone else, and that he doesn't take vacations because he knows someone is waiting to take his job is very striking. That is so true and almost common sense but when you hear it from someone who is so established it makes it more real. Also I like how he mentioned that Accuracy in reporting is more important than ever before, because you (George Miller) have said this in class to us over and over.

Geo said...

I said something over and over?

That doesn't sound like me.

- George
(the teacher who thinks that accuracy has always been absolutely, 100 percent, without-a-doubt, no questions asked vital to journalism ... and it always will be).

Meredith Thomas said...

I had the privilege of seeing Anderson Cooper in person on Thursday. I found him to be extremely personable and had a genuine desire to answer questions to the fullest capacity. Even though almost every student had in the theater had a question for Mr. Cooper, he only was able to answer a few of the student's questions, but each answer was detailed and very personal. Going into the Q&A, I did not know much about Anderson Cooper. I knew who he was, a little about his background, and that he worked for CNN. After hearing his stories about all of the turmoil he has faced around the world and the steps he has taken to get where he is today, I now hold the greatest respect for this man. He gave advice that was inspirational and useful for a career in journalism. The fact that he said he never takes vacation or any days off amazed me. Even though he is such a prominent person, he still worries about someone taking his position. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the conversation with Anderson Cooper and learned a lot about what this incredible man has experienced in life.

Janki said...

I unfortunately wasn't able to see Anderson Cooper speak last week, but I feel as though you did a great job wrapping the entire hour into this post.

I really like one of the quotes you posted; "Accuracy in reporting is more important than ever before,". This is so important to me because as we have discussed in class before, there are so many people posting wrong information over the internet. Information is so easily transmittable, especially with the internet, that anyone can essentially be a journalist but it is our job as real journalists to be as accurate as possible and set the facts straight.

I also admire the fact that he is humane about his work. There are so many people that become robots to their work, but he remembers that he is a person and he stands by his actions when they are looked down upon. I find it admirable that he saved that boy, and how he put himself out there with the knowledge of walking into literal war zones and the criticism of his sexuality in the countries he practiced in. Like Thomas said up there, the world needs more Anderson Coopers.

David Cornfield said...

I was there to see Anderson Cooper and sit in on his lecture, or Q&A of sorts. I thought it was very entertaining. I was thinking of asking a more light-hearted question, but after all the serious questions I didn't want to look like a fool.

Susan Dong said...

Awwh, I'm so sad that I missed it. I like the picture you took with him and thanks for all the detailed information! I almost feel like I was there. And whoa, he works a lot... I hear people complain over 8 hour work days and here he is working double that amount.

Collin Tobash said...

Incredibly informative talk. The quote about "making sure the microphone is close enough to capture the death rattle" was striking to me, but really the point he was making is well taken. You want to be simultaneously driven and repulsed by those journalistic instincts in grave situations. Its important to retain your basic sense of humanity and concern for distressed peoples, but you also must amplify every painstaking detail so the audience grasps the full magnitude of the story.

Melonee Rembert said...

I saw him and I loved it! I thought he was extremely humble. I realized he must have had a little bit of money by going to travelling country to country straight out of college, but he did it for his passion of reporting, of exploring, of learning. I feel like I learned so much not only on being a great journalist, but an overall great person! I never got bored, never got disinterested and listened to everything he told us. The only thing I didn't like about the Q&A was that I didn't get a picture with him afterward! :(

Chelsea Elizabeth said...

I unfortunately didn't get to see him, I know there's been a lot of controversy over whether or not he practices "real" journalism but I love his compassion and how much he loves his job. I think he's a great person to look up to when it comes to what we want to get out of our jobs. Hearing the things he said, makes me want to make sure I'm having a career that I don't even necessarily want to call a job because I love it so much.

-Chelsea Finn

Zoƫ Dean said...

I have always enjoyed Anderson Cooper's work on CNN, I was a little turned off upon hearing he was hosting a daytime talk show, but then realized it is a perfect example of how he separates himself as the man/journalist/host, etc...all his different roles in life. It's important to distinguish between when he is reporting and when he is hosting a show. Clearly, he is able to do that successfully, in theory the audience should be able to, as well. The talk show also allows him to bring personal experience into the conversation which I think can be helpful in some ways, especially if he has some struggles to pull from and help/inspire others with. People relate to people, they read stories about people, so having a person lead the discussion with real life experience and opinions, in theory should be a good thing (within that setting.) The outworking-everyone-else message is true of every profession. As an older student returning to college having had a career, I can attest to how that plays out in the real world, and college students have the perfect opportunity to learn about hard work....socializing is important for development, too but living with the fear that someone could snag your job when you're not looking is a great motivator! Back on topic (sorry!): Anderson Cooper seems like an inspirational guy; he went after what he wanted; has kept a level head as far as the fundamentals of journalism through everything; doesn't take his position for granted; appears to actually care, and that is awesome.

Darian said...

He's getting people to listen. Call it bias call it intervening, but if he didn't bring some type of star quality and personality to it no one would know what's goin on in the world. I implore some one to educate the world with out being the tiniest bit flashy. The Daily Show, Opera and Anderson Cooper all inform the public but they could do that with out their bran of entertainment

Elle Alva said...

I was pretty interested in seeing Anderson Cooper at Temple. I thought it was great he came out and talked a minute or so about himself and left the stage open for students to ask him questions.

Anderson Cooper did not really impress me as the questions were asked by the students. Anderson did have some really great quotes. There was one he said something along the lines of how it’s great to run into the action when everyone else is running away from it.

I think it was great how Anderson Cooper made his dreams come true but I feel he had some help along the way that many other students do not have, Anderson Cooper gave great advice when it came to interning about being the first one in and the last one out because it displays your passion and eagerness. But Anderson I feel praised himself to much about his accomplishments. At the end of the event, I was not to impressed with Anderson, I feel there are much more admirable people in the journalism career who display the passion and journalism standards and expectations with a humbler style.

Anderson did not impress me much. With his background and upbringing, I don’t really feel he knew what it was to struggle with really anything until he went into journalism. I think his day time show is not at all interesting but instead comical.


Moumita Ghosh said...

I was not able to see Anderson Cooper speak, but it is so highly inspiring and impressive to hear how hardworking and dedicated he is and that he works 14-16 hours a day and does not take vacations! It is so great to see that even though he did not get a job after graduating from Yale University, he went off to war zones such as- Burma, Bosnia and Somalia and other places. And then since he never gave up, he one day became one of the greatest journalists in the world! After going to the war zones, he was hired by ABC news. He also now reports for 60 Minutes, he hosts a daily talk show on CBS and anchors a show on CNN. I love how he says to run to something that everyone else is running away from. He is definitely such an inspiration for young people who are studying journalism and want to be journalists someday! I am not a journalism major, but took couple journalism classes as electives, but he is also an inspiration for me!!

Chelsea Ann Rovnan said...

The fact that he said that the long 14 to 16 hour days don't feel long to him and don't bother him just goes to show how much he truly loves his job. I admire him for this. Nowadays, all anybody tells me is to choose a career and pick a job that's going to make me happy. I've been told that money doesn't matter if you're not doing what you love and it is evident that Anderson Cooper absolutely loves what he's doing for a living. It's respectable and not only that, it's a great message for young people to receive. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to go see him speak here at Temple. However, I've always admired Anderson Cooper. I find him to be a great journalist who isn't afraid to take a chance.

Sean Givnish said...

I thought it was important how Anderson said it was necessary to be authentic while the cameras were rolling. I agree with this sentiment, as the cameras are simply a means to transport news and information to the viewer, but their presence shouldn't alter what is presented. However, I found it interesting that Anderson included personal interpretation of the news under the umbrella of being authentic in journalism. In my opinion, it is not authentic for journalists to interpret the news they are presenting because it is likely to skew the viewer's own interpretation. I think this is an important issue facing journalism today, and is likely to be hotly debated. I understand the arguments that a journalist interpreting the news brings it to a more personal level, but in terms of hard-reporting, I do not feel it is ethical.

Tsega Tesfaye said...

Although I didn't get a chance to attend this event. You summed it up pretty well. I feel like I didn't miss much. From the few things you quoted from Anderson Cooper you can tell he truly loves what he does it isn't even work for him. I liked when he said "In order to be a success, you need to outwork everyone else". It is one of the truest statements. We live in such a competitive society you have to make a name for yourself and stand out.